Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Ségolène Royal goes for green

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Ron Dermer, Israeli ambassador to the United States

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

A look back at some of the Observers' best stories

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults: Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds' (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults: Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds'

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola death toll tops 700

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Dozens of youths trampled to death on Conakry beach

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Renault's women drivers ad deemed sexist

Read more

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians: Nowhere to Run? (part 2)

Read more

  • Ron Dermer, Israeli ambassador to the United States

    Read more

  • Live: Israeli soldier feared captured, ceasefire 'over'

    Read more

  • Ugandan court strikes down anti-gay legislation

    Read more

  • Regional summit to tackle deadly Ebola outbreak

    Read more

  • French hospital to open wine bar for terminally ill patients

    Read more

  • €2.5 million in cocaine ‘disappears’ from Paris police HQ

    Read more

  • Air France ground workers to strike on August 2

    Read more

  • Interactive: France’s new plan to counter jihadism in Africa

    Read more

  • Ukrainian army suffers losses in separatist attack

    Read more

  • Dozens killed and injured in Taiwan gas blast

    Read more

  • Argentinian markets plummet following default

    Read more

  • French Jews speak of growing fear in Paris amid Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • Video: Inside Hamas ‘terror’ tunnels in Gaza

    Read more

  • Sierra Leone declares state of emergency over spread of Ebola

    Read more

  • France remembers murdered socialist hero Jean Jaurès

    Read more

Asia-pacific

N. Korea sentences US citizen to 15 years hard labour

© AP

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-05-02

North Korea sentenced a US citizen identified as Kenneth Bae to 15 years hard labour on Thursday after finding him guilty of committing crimes against the state. The move comes amid months of heightened tensions between the countries.

North Korea sentenced U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae to 15 years hard labour on Thursday for committing crimes against the state, a move that will likely see him used as a bargaining chip in talks with Washington.

Bae, 44, was born in South Korea but is a naturalised American citizen and attended the University of Oregon. According to U.S. media, he most recently lived in the Seattle suburb of Lynnwood.

His sentencing comes after two months of sabre-rattling by Pyongyang that saw North Korea threaten both the United States and South Korea with nuclear war.

Bae is believed to be a devout Christian, according to human rights activists in South Korea, who say he may have been arrested for taking pictures of starving children, known as “kotjebi” or fluttering swallows.

Bae was part of a group of five tourists who visited the northeastern North Korean city of Rajin in November and has been held since then.

North Korean state news agency KCNA did not list any specific charge other than crimes against the state, and used a Korean rendering of Bae’s name, Pae Jun-ho, when it reported the Supreme Court ruling.

“North Korea has shown their intention to use him as a negotiating card as they have done in the past,” said Cheong Seong-chang, senior fellow at the Sejong Institute, a Seoul-based think-tank.

Bae’s sentence was heftier than the 12 years handed down to two U.S. journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, in 2009. It took a visit to Pyongyang by former President Bill Clinton to secure their release.

North Korea appears to use the release of high profile American prisoners to extract a form of personal tribute, rather than for economic or diplomatic gain, often portraying visiting dignitaries as paying homage.

“I think his sentencing was hefty. North Korea seemed to consider his acts more severe,” said Jang Myung-bong, honorary professor at Kookmin University in Seoul and a North Korea law expert.

Bae was given counsel by the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, which has consistently declined to comment on the case, as the United States does not have diplomatic relations with the North.

According to North Korean law, the punishment for hostile acts against the state is between five and 10 years hard labour.

(REUTERS)

Date created : 2013-05-02

  • NORTH KOREA

    N. Korea charges American of plotting to overthrow regime

    Read more

COMMENT(S)